Friday, 19 October 2012


Graduating from Central St. Martins, Polish artist, Jan Manski has been progressively sculpting a neo-dystopian amalgam since his graduation. This process has culminated in “Onania” a deeply evocative series of sculptures and instruments alluding to a social torrent of turmoil. In this world, mythologies and social norms have become all consuming, temerarious and explicitly over-indulged to the point of ego-depletion. 

Aetiology Unknown 24 - 2012

The divergence of synthetic and natural materials illuminate the superficiality which embodies the distorted, tortured breeding ground of this biosphere. Consumer culture and rabid fascination of the obsolete has spurned a self-destructive and ugly self-obsession. Illustrative of these ritualistic reforms are his use of materials, including abandoned fat sourced from liposuction clinics. In this very indicative world, grotty slimy tentacles splurge and writhe across a mannequin’s jaw, like a fleshy fossil that is planted atop a glossy torso and glamourous fur stole. These hybrid-swollen masses, which appear borne out of some guttural Promethean-abyss, are made even more provocative via their association to the mirror, the clinic our aesthetic addiction. Inspired by both the medieval and renaissance paintings of Bosch and Brueghel as well as the mainstream, fashion and consumer culture, Manski brings these sculptures to a pinnacle of sensationalism. This medieval, underworld dimension is balanced with our present-day modernity and a future age of dystopian mystery.

Aetiology Unknown 03 - 2010

Sickly pink. That colour which is neither bright nor pallid, sweetness with a melancholic, almost bucolic tinge slicks the equipment at Onania. This candyfloss greasy shade is an apt opposition to the molten, mouldy texture of these hideous sprouting sci-fi demons. Narcissism flirts with brutal prissiness to inflame a rich debate about the consumer culture that appears grotesque in Onania’s hallucinatory state of sterilized happiness. Inevitably, Manski employs a balance between the veneer of control and pleasure to the depths of vulnerability and sedimentary hollowness. Boundless, often destructive pleasure underscores the whole essence of Manski’s Onania, which calls into question our culture and values in very direct symbols. For example, “Aetiology Unknown 24” is an alien combination of mannequin and creature entombed in a glass vitrine. However, the harrowing is in the detail. The face ridden thick in a fatty celluloid substance curves outwards to form a protruding jaw but the unnerving detail lies in the pearlescent pink stud on the earlobe. Tiny and discreet yet encumbered with striking ambivalence.    

Aetiology Unknown 32 - 2012

Elements of Francis Bacon come to mind with its encased delicate horror. This too, made more startling via Manski’s use of fur, leather and normal clothing fabrics alongside polyvinyl acetate, fat and curving jaws. We have entered a world of colossal ingenuity in a deceptively refined state. Welcome to the Manski milieu. 

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